June 11, 2012 - No Comments
by Jim Barnes
The following is a report by our correspondent, Eric Rowan:
Mid Atlantic Air Museum
22nd Annual WWII Weekend
June 1st â€“ June 3rd 2012
For twenty two years, the Mid Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania has hosted a WWII weekend. I was able to attend the 22nd annual reenactment, and I must say I was very pleased. As with every event, however there were ups and downs. Letâ€™s start off with the pros. Location was pretty nice, we were on the airfield in Reading, which was very large & offered tons of space for vendors and reenactors. Many reenactors came from all over the country and I had the opportunity to meet some very interesting veterans! Displays were excellent, along with the amount of vendors & their variety in items. There were very nice people in attendance and the public was full of excitement and questions, very pleasurable to be around. My only gripes with this event would be the weather, first off. It wound up raining on all three days of the event. Not the entire time, however enough to drench anything and everything in its path! This didnâ€™t stop the event or the airshow, though! Unfortunately the battles were cancelled. The Japanese units failed to show up, so a pacific theater battle was out of the question and as for the US v. GrossDeutschland and Waffen-SS v. USSR, the field was â€œtoo muddyâ€ according to the officials running the show. Which brings me to yet another complaint I have, getting into the event was a hassle for me due to technical problems & I was pretty much told quite simply to â€˜go homeâ€™ even though I had my money and ID ready, and willing to sign any and all paperwork required. Parking for reenactors trailers was nearly a mile away, and the handicapped parking, although directly beside an entrance, was blocked off and labeled as â€œVendors entranceâ€ and security refused to let anyone other than vendors through. Quite ridiculous, but aside from all of that, I still had fun! I highly recommend going if you get the chance, if you can tolerate the craziness of what I mentioned.
I had the opportunity to walk around the area quite a bit. Attending as US Army Air Corps 8th Air Force and 193rd Soviet Rifles, I was able to see a large amount of displays and camps. To start, the Soviet camps had multiple displays and around seven or eight different displays set up, definitely worth seeing. As you ventured towards the airstrip, you came across US camps, and as always, US camps were in abundance and I was able to meet some great people and see some extraordinary displays. The Wehrmacht had set up directly across the tarmac and had occupied the â€œFrench Villageâ€ that was built specifically for this event, which again, is just extraordinary! The Waffen-SS display was, at first, quite small but as the day progressed; they were able to bring in their Stug-III replica, two anti-aircraft guns, multiple vehicles, a half track and a nebelwerfer. The Japanese unfortunately failed to show up, from what I understand. I did see two Japanese riflemen on the last day, but had yet to see any sight of their camp. The pacific theater display was amazing, and itâ€™s rare to come across one of those here in the Mid Eastern US considering the theater in which we live. Quite intricate in design and decoration, I was highly impressed. The Army Air Corps, whom I must give a special thanks to for allowing me to access the B-25J, was also a great display! In addition to all of these units and reenactors, there were dozens of aircraft ranging from Navy single engine trainers to the ONLY B-29 Superfortress left flying in the world, â€œFifi.â€ Aircraft included, SB2C Helldivers, a D3A1 Val, P40 Warhawk, P-51D Mustangs, B-17G Flying Fortress, SBD Dauntless, B25D and B25J bombers, and multiple single engine civilian aircraft of the period with Civil Air Patrol markings. Little known history fact for those who do not know; the Civil Air Patrol is actually credited with sinking German U-Boats off the East Coast of America in 1941 and 1942. As a former member of the Civil Air Patrol it was very interesting to see C.A.P. represented in that time period. Also included in some of the displays were WWII Searchlights! Those were amazing to see in person, and Iâ€™ve never seen anything like it! Next, the dance was quite wonderful too. They began with a color guard unit marching into the area, followed by Army escort on motorcycles and walking guards, following a black Ford. Inside was a reenactor portraying FDR. I didnâ€™t catch his name but he did a grand job! He reenacted the Dec. 8th Speech, which sounded almost exactly like the real thing! I was amazed. The Eighth Air Force band was also participating, playing â€œHail to The Chiefâ€ upon his entrance. Afterwards, the dance began and the music was expertly played by the band. I had left a little early than the end, so I canâ€™t say much more on that. Finally, the last and probably the most interesting part of the weekend was the air show. This was where we were finally able to see all the war birds in action and off the tarmac! The air show lasted almost three hours and involved much skilled aerial acrobatics performed by Kevin Russo. A very interesting show, and with very interesting displays and wonderful participants, I highly recommend attending! Some consider the price of $65 for the entire weekend a bit steep, but it was well worth it!